When I moved from Deep Springs, California to LA for graduate school, friends and family shared concerns that without a car, my commute would be terrible. Well, I am happy to report that I have proved them all wrong! Yes, walking, biking, and taking public transit has its challenges, but so does driving (traffic congestion, parking, climate change, to name a few). Rather than live in fear, I actually look forward to my multi-modal commute every day. First, I look at it as a learning opportunity. As a student in urban planning and public administration at USC, it is important to me that I understand and experience public transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Second, I embrace the economic benefit! I save a lot of money by not driving, which helps me afford life in Los Angeles as a student.
Thanks to a partnership between Metro and USC Graduate Student Government, I get to buy an affordable, unlimited Metro TAP Card each semester. You can see if you are eligible for a discounted TAP Card, too.
On any given week day, I travel from Palms to USC or DTLA on:
- The 733 Rapid bus: I love taking the bus, because I can read the news, do homework, meet new people, and bring my bike. Oh, and during my commute, I’ve also taken up learning a language. By using this time to practice Spanish on Duolingo, I have gone from 0-33% fluent in just 10 months! A este ritmo , voy a hablar con fluidez en un par de años más.
- The Expo Line train: The train is great for all the same reasons as the bus, but it’s faster. I guess one downside is that it warrants less time for language learning.
- My awesome bike: This is my favorite mode of transportation. I get to be outside, exercise, and meet other people who ride bikes. I hope that people who see me on my bike think, “Hey, that person looks pretty happy on their bike. Maybe I can ride a bike, too!”
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: Palms is way closer to UCLA than USC. Why am I choosing this epic commute? Well, to start, I need to get out and living far from campus helps me to explore more of LA. Plus, I have a lot of friends at UCLA, and I think it’s a cool school to live by (don’t tell Tommy Trojan). Some people are bi-coastal. I like bi-campusal.
Riding from Palms to USC
Before I hop on my bike, I run through an ABC Quick Check to make sure everything is in working order. It is better for me to solve a problem like a flat tire, broken chain, or faulty brakes at home than when I am rushing off to work or school. For example, when I take my bike down from a wall mount, sometimes the brakes become disengaged. I prefer to notice this in the comfort of my apartment, not when I’m trying to stop at a red light.
Once I know my bike is good to go, I ride to Culver City Station and park at the station bike racks (with not one, but TWO U-locks). Did you know you can rent a bike locker from Metro? I am seriously considering this, because my bicycle can never be too safe.
Since some classes end after 9pm, I often get home late. I love Venice because of the bike lane. Venice has the longest connected bike lane in Los Angeles! But cars drive at high speeds, which is even more terrifying at night. So, I’ve mastered at-night riding. Check out my super reflective backpack!
I also have a reflective jacket and helmet cover. You can never be too visible on the road!
Ok, back to my commute. At Culver City Station, I hop on the Expo Line train for a seamless commute to Expo Park/USC station, which is closest to my department, but there are actually three Expo Line stations at USC:
- Expo Park/USC
This bike-train commute from my apartment to school takes anywhere from 35 to 50 minutes, depending on how long I wait for the train.
While I usually ride my bike to the train station, I sometimes like to bike all the to USC! My route travels along Venice and Exposition and takes about 45 minutes.
On my way home, I often swing by the grocery store. Thanks to my folding pannier baskets, which I bought from Palms Cycle, I can carry two full grocery bags (one in each basket).
Palms to DTLA
On days when I head directly to work, I take the 733 Rapid bus, which is pretty much a straight shot.
My walk to the bus stop is great because it gets me outside. It also reminds me that most streets in Los Angeles are not designed for pedestrians. I have near misses with cars almost as often as I do on my bike, and it’s especially bad during rush hour. Being a pedestrian can feel really powerless when streets are made for fast, heavy vehicles. People who walk should feel safe and connected. I’m grateful to be part of LADOT’s Active Transportation Division, working to make LA neighborhoods walkable through programs like People St.
My walk-bus trip takes about an hour, depending on how long I wait for the bus. I use Transit App to track arrival times, which helps minimize my wait.
DTLA to USC
Getting from DTLA to USC is super easy, because it’s only 4 miles on my bike. There aren’t always bike lanes, but I confidently take the lane and ride 4 feet away from parked cars when that’s the case. I was “doored” a few years ago, so I learned the hard way to never ride in the door zone. Learn from my mistake! This commute takes 25 minutes.
When I’m not on my bike, I take public transit. There are a lot of options spanning 28 to 36 minutes:
- 910/950 Silver Line bus
- 81 bus
- DASH A bus
- DASH F bus
- Purple Line train
- Red Line train
- Expo Line train
This commute is about to get way better thanks to the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project (aka MyFigueroa). As part of MyFigueroa, complete street elements will be installed along a 4 miles stretch of Figuera. These improvements will include a protected bike lane, bike signal heads, and bike boxes at intersections, among others. Construction starts in summer 2016 and will be completed by March 2017.
Well, there you have it. My commute saves money, gets me outside, gives me opportunities to be productive, and makes me feel connected to my communities and the greater Los Angeles.
Thanks for reading! How is your commute?
Gwen von Klan is an intern at LADOT’s Active Transportation Division.
So, we know mobility is an important part of our lives that allows us to participate in different activities and we know a hub refers to a center for an activity but is a “mobility hub” a thing? The idea of a mobility hub comes from a vision for a sustainable transportation system that offers seamless connectivity and integration between various modes of transport, all through a single platform. There are two components that differentiate a mobility hub from other transportation services: (1) they serve the “first/last mile trip” from transit and (2) demand-based services are offered through an information technology platform.
Mobility through Connectivity
Mobility hubs, typically located at major transit stations, are designed to provide “on-demand” transportation through first/last mile transportation solutions. They are strategic locations where people using one mode or service can use another service to reach their final destination to both easily and conveniently. Mobility hubs are not only an extension of local transit service and infrastructure networks for walking and bicycling, but also a venue to access carshare services!
Perhaps as exciting as the availability of these mobility options, is that mobility hubs also offer a host of other amenities that solve the first/last mile challenge. These can include electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle repair stations, secure bicycle storage facilities, like El Monte’s new “Bike Hub, transit hubs, ridesharing services, personal lockers, electronic signage of real-time arrival times, and departure transit information.
In addition to the first/last mile services, mobility hubs integrate recent technology innovations to allow you to use all these mobility hub amenities and services through a single application. Just like tweeting or submitting a 311 request, you should be able to reserve and/or pay for the services from your phone. A mobility hub can allow you to, for example, reserve a carshare vehicle through a mobile app on your phone or on your computer via an online portal while riding the bus, hop off the bus at a transit station, and immediately hop into your reserved vehicle. Just like many of the other apps and digital products available today, mobility hubs take advantage of quick and easy payment schemes to provide seamless connectivity. Who can’t get behind that?
Integrated Mobility Hubs Project in Los Angeles
By this time next year, Los Angeles will join the ranks of more than 600 cities around the world with a bikeshare system! On June 25th, the Metro Board offered their stamp of approval for both the LA County Bikeshare Plan and a bikeshare vendor (Bicycle Transit Systems, Inc.) Shortly thereafter, the Los Angeles City Council voted on August 28th to partner with Metro in launching a pilot bikeshare program in Los Angeles, which will take place in mid-2016 with up to 1,000 bikes and 80 stations in Downtown L.A.
This decision is momentous! Bikeshare is a critical component of a larger initiative taking place in the Los Angeles Metropolitan region, the Integrated Mobility Hubs Project.
In our first installation of Explore LA!, we thought we’d so something quintessentially Angelean, like take a trip to the movies! This Saturday, August 15th, the Los Angeles section of the American Planning Association (APA) is hosting a special tour and movie night at Cinespia‘s Movies All Night Slumber Party. APA explorers will be Guided by professionals and treated to a walking tour of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hollywood Forever has history-laden past and serves as the final resting place for some of Hollywood’s earliest stars. The site is also a great place for thinking about urban planning and the utilization and re-purposing of existing infrastructure because in more recent times, it has undergone a transformation from near-bankruptcy in the 90s to its revitalization and rebirth as one of Los Angeles’ more beloved landmarks in the early 2000s.
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and more specifically the Cinespia (a portmanteau of two Italian words: “cine” as in cinema and “spiare” meaning “to spy”) screenings, has helped fill one of the most gaping voids in Los Angeles, the dearth of public gathering spaces. Now admittedly it’s not exactly “public” since you have to pay to attend the screenings, but there’s definitely a feeling of camaraderie among the masses of cinema-spies.
Like campers freely lending forgotten necessities it’s not uncommon to strike up conversations with strangers over a borrowed blanket. This bringing together of people for a shared experience is especially beneficial and needed in LA where we are so often shut off from others: either physically in our cars, or mentally on the bus or train with heads clad in earphones and sunglasses. It’s nice to experience Los Angeles in a way that, for once, isn’t so adversarial.
And why not arrive at the Hollywood Cemetery in a fun, shared-experience sort of way? The Hollywood/Vine Red Line Station is only a mile away; it’s an easy 15-20 minute walk and an even easier 5 minute bike ride. Read more
It’s a wrap! Bike Week 2015 is officially over… animated bicycling creatures, a spinning wheel of trivia, 25 foot fish skeletons, shamans, BIKE SOCKS and so much more! Thanks Metro and all the LA County partners who worked so hard to put this all together! It was truly unforgettable because Bike Weeks come and go, but the memories stay with us forever. In case your memory’s not as great as ours, or you weren’t able to attend all the events, here’s a quick recap…
This year’s program for Bike Week was jam-packed with fun. Over at the LADOT Bike Program, we made sure not to miss any of the wonderful opportunities to get up and out with Metro and our bicycle partners, propagating bike love across LA throughout the week.
LADOT General Manager, Seleta Reynolds, kicked off Bike Week 2015 with a group ride into work. She led a group ride of LADOT employees from Echo Park to LADOT headquarters in Downtown. Next stop: the Bike Week kick off press conference at Grand Park! The press conference was star-studded with #bikeLA VIPs including Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Councilmember Jose Huizar, Metro’s day 1 on the job new CEO Phil Washington, Metro boardmember and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Caltrans’ District 7 Director Carrie Bowen, LACBC’s Executive Director Tamika Butler, CICLE’s Executive Director Vanessa Gray, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Andy Leeka, and CicLAvia’s Aaron Paley. Also, lots and lots of cameras and media from local news channels.
Later that day, Metro hosted the “Is Bicycling In Your Future?” panel moderated by Frances Anderton, host of KCRW Design and Architecture and daily bicycle commuter. The panel featured Laura Cornejo, Deputy Executive Officer at Metro; Maria Sipin, Advisory Board Member of Multicultural Communities for Mobility; Tamika Butler, Executive Director of Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition; and Sergeant Mike Flynn, LAPD Central Traffic Division Bicycle Liaison. Panelists explored whether bicycle ridership will increase as viewed through the lens of engineering, enforcement, and encouragement. We did some math on this and… short answer: YES, bicycling is in YOUR future!
Tuesday opened with the 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles! As usual the Blessing was at the Downtown adjacent Good Samaritan Hospital, accompanied by a delicious breakfast. During the morning, fallen bicyclists and advocates were recognized. Then religious figures literally bless bicyclists as they ride by, ensuring them a safe passage throughout the year.
Wednesday’s Bike-In Movies defied inclement weather (by LA standards) by attracting a park full of people on two wheels and their fascinating chair-and-blanket contraptions. Danny Gamboa of Ghost Bikes and Metro’s Jack Moreau MC-ed the night. The shorts ranged from animated critters dealing with aggressive cartoon cars to the very solemn stories of families who have lost loved ones and found peace through the Ghost Bikes movement.
Thursday was Bike to Work Day! This event featured hundreds of pit stops across LA County. Our very own LADOT Bike Program’s pit stop hung out with the Caltrans pit stop in front of our headquarters at Main and 1st Street. Commuters came for the freebies and stayed for fun! We offered snacks, information, and other cool bike swag. We had many special pit stop visits including Tamika Butler and Eric Bruins from LACBC, First 5 LA, former LADOT Bike Program superstar Jon Overman, and a news crew from Biola University.
Later that night, creatives from across the region shared their bicycle-themed artwork with LA Metro for the Color Wheels Art Show. The reception was held at the Caltrans Building, coinciding with DTLA Art Walk. Food, music, and prizes, as well as the really cool bicycle art, helped fill the room. If you haven’t yet visited the exhibition, don’t worry, the show will be open all month! One of our favorite pieces was the fish skeleton stuffed with trash found in the LA River (Bicycle Coordinator Rubina Ghazarian not included in the art piece). The piece shows not only that our bike lanes are large enough to accommodate a giant fish towed via bike trailer from Burbank, but that we need to take better care of our streets, rivers, and oceans!
Bike Night at Union Station was the BEST! The event was hosted in the Old Ticket Room in Los Angeles’s most historic train station. We don’t want to gloat, but our LADOT Spin-the-Bike-Wheel was pretty cool! The trivia contest was all the rage, with people lining up again and again for an opportunity to prove their #bikeLA cred and win special prizes.
Most exciting for us though was our opportunity to debut our brand new Bikeways Guides, hot off the presses from the print shop! We distributed hundreds of our new maps, updating people with the first new guide since 2011! Bike Night was also full of music, food trucks, a photobooth and sweet prizes for everyone courtesy of Metro and sponsors. Free bike valet and tune-ups services were offered by Fleet Streets. Once again, Bike Night has proven to be the champion of all Bike Week wrap-ups.
Talking the talk and walking the walk, we want to share what some Angelenos did during the week. A bike ride held by UCLA Urban Planning students and alumni (and former familiar faces from the Bike Program) visited NoHo Arts Districts, Chandler Bike Path, Griffith Park, LA River Bike Path, North Atwater Park, and Golden Road Brewing on Saturday, May 16. Across the City and beyond, many other rides took place during the week. Please share with us what you did during Bike Week in the comment section!
Bike Week hooks you up with the events and people to begin or continue your bike journey! And probably most importantly, it provides you the tools to navigate the streets of Los Angeles by bicycle safely. Sadly, Bike Week 2015 has ended, but the fun continues because May is Bike Month!
Ride safely and we hope to see you on the road whether it’s Bike Week or not because at LADOT every week is Bike Week!
Spring (or is this one long perpetual summer?) is back and adventure options for those on two wheels are endless! After travelling to a few other places, we wanted to get back on our local tourism tip!
This bicycle tour features destinations in between the Red Line North Hollywood Station (in NoHo) and the Griffith Park Sunday Drum Circle. Yes, a drum circle! This 8.5 mile-long bike ride travels along different bike facilities (bike paths, lanes, and routes) and features a variety of LA neighborhood attractions from shops & entertainment in NoHo to nature & culture in Griffith Park.
Come along for the ride! To prepare, you need: a bike, a bike lock, some kind of map or smart phone, water, snacks, and don’t forget your sun protection, because it can get HOT!
It’s our favorite time of the year! Bike Week LA is back once again!
The annual week-long bici-centric event, sponsored by Metro, will fill May 10-15 with more bicycle-oriented activities than ever before! More? Yes MORE! Bike Week focuses on encouraging people to ride their bicycles, raising awareness about people on bikes but also about all active transportation users in Los Angeles. Some of the week’s highlights include bike repair workshops, the infamous Bike to Work Day pit stops, and evening festivities to make sure you’re hooked up with people who share your interests! If you’ve never participated in Bike Week, do not fear, Bike Week is for YOU! It’s full of resources and activities for everyone, from the new to the experienced rider, from the bicycle-curious to the bikeaholic.
Bike Week LA 2015 Lineup:
Bicycle tourism has been well observed and practiced as a recreational activity across the United States, but often we fail to remember the multitude of sightseeing opportunities right here within our city’s diverse neighborhoods. As Los Angeles’ bicycle network and multi-modal connectivity expands, we have more and more opportunities get out of our cars and explore new areas by bicycle. There’s no better way to spend a sunny Sunday than exploring Los Angeles’ hidden gems. We thought we would share our favorite bicycle routes and points of interest in and around San Pedro, one of L.A.’s most scenic and bikeable neighborhoods.
Located 25 miles south of Downtown L.A., San Pedro is home to some of the city’s most breathtaking vistas and historical sights, not to mention bike lanes and paths that even novice riders will enjoy. Our journey begins on San Pedro’s Paseo Del Mar, accessible via the terminus of Metro Bus 246 at Paseo and Parker St. Cruise Paseo’s bike lanes and check out the breathtaking cliff-side views of the Pacific and Catalina Island. Stop by local haunt, the Corner Store to refuel with coffee and snacks before making your way east to Point Fermin Park, home of legendary Walker’s Café and the Point Fermin Lighthouse, built in 1874.
From Point Fermin, it is a quick 5 minute ride down Shepherd and Pacific Avenues to Cabrillo Beach, where you can check out the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the nearby tide pools. If squids and urchins aren’t your thing, enjoy the views along the beachfront bike path and fishing pier. Head north on sharrowed Shoshean Road toward 22nd Street where twenty-second Street Park’s scenic bike path will lead you straight to Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro’s new artisan marketplace located in a beautifully restored warehouse.
After picking up some homemade marmalade, head up the hill to Beacon St. to check out the Muller House Museum (open Sundays only), a cherished jewel of San Pedro’s past. Other great sights in the vicinity include: the WPA murals in the San Pedro Post Office on Beacon St, recently constructed Cabrillo Way Marina and Warehouse No. 1 at the south end of Signal St, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Take a well-deserved break at Utro’s Cafe right off of Sampson Way, home to arguably the best burger in town. Peruse Utro’s extensive collection of memorabilia to learn a bit about the history of longshore workers in San Pedro. If you’re still up for more San Pedro sights after lunch, take a stroll around the quaint shops at Ports O’Call. From here you can also take the short trip north to the fantastic Battleship USS Iowa and Los Angeles Maritime Museum both accessible via the bike lanes on Harbor Blvd.
If you want to give your legs a rest, hop on the Historic Waterfront Red Car Line, one of the last remaining vestiges of Los Angeles’ railcar past or enjoy the water show at Gateway Plaza, featuring two Fanfare fountains by WET Design. When you’re ready to catch the 246 back north, take bike-friendly 9th, 13th, or 14th Streets 4 blocks west to Pacific Ave.
Since there’s so much more to see in San Pedro – like the Warner Grand Theater and Korean Bell, just to name a few- feel free to leave us your suggestions for other great bike-friendly sights in town! Also, let us know if you have any suggestions for other bikeable L.A. neighborhoods you would like to see us explore on the blog.
Jose Tchopourian, LADOT Bike Program.
The Los Angeles region is vast and challenging to navigate by any transportation mode. Some residents, like myself, find it more enjoyable and oftentimes faster to commute using a bicycle alone or in combination with public transit.
Before guiding you through my “hybrid commute”, which combines bicycling and transit, I would like to point you to some helpful resources for making trips by bicycle: bike maps and infrastructure, transit maps and timetables, bike rules of the road, and fun bike rides and education.
Since September, I have been commuting from my home in the NoHo Arts District to class at UCLA’s Urban Planning Department. My trip combines a bike and Metro’s underground Red Line subway. The total commute is 14 miles long and takes about 1 hour door to door.
I start my trip on the Metro Red Line at the North Hollywood station in the direction of Union Station. I ride the train two stops, departing at the Hollywood/Highland station. The train ride takes about 9 minutes. If you are riding Metro Rail with your bike, keep the following in mind: 1) use elevators or stairs to enter and exit stations 2) if the train is full, wait for the next one 3) give priority to passengers in wheelchairs, and 4) stand with your bike in the designated area for bikes, which are clearly identified with a yellow decal adjacent to the car doors.
The second part of my commute, an 8-mile bicycle ride, takes about 45 minutes and allows me to experience the sights and sounds of multiple neighborhoods.It is important to follow the rules of the road while operating a bicycle. Obey all traffic signals and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, and use lights to be visible at night. I find that riding predictably and communicating with other road users makes my ride safer.
The route I have selected avoids steep mountainous terrain. Instead, I experience slight inclines during my trip. In addition to elevation, I also consider the type of streets I will be using to get to my destination. Eight years of using a bicycle for moving through Los Angeles have taught me that safety comes first. Even if riding on arterial streets might bring me to my destination a few minutes earlier, I prefer to trade time saving for the lower-stress experience of riding on residential and neighborhood streets. When I do ride on arterial streets, I pick those that have bike facilities on them.
Here is my route. If you see me on the road, say hello!
If you would like to share your favorite route, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.